Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Toolbox O'Beauty

After spending HOURS on the phone last night with his new girlfriend Kelsey, Chaos asked me if she could come over today. I said yes, but...
-I expected him to introduce her to me and his sibs
-He had to clean his room and the family areas (living room and kitchen)
-She couldn't be in the house if I wasn't (I had one errand to run today)
-He couldn't be a butterhead to the rest of us to show out for his girl
-They couldn't be behind closed doors
-Her parents needed to know she was here

He agreed to all of this. He woke up earlier than usual. He cleaned with only minimal prodding. He took a shower and picked out his clothes. He came to my room dressed in his new *bright* green pants (with chains) and said, "Do you have any pliers?" I gave him directions to the toolbox before my brain caught up enough to remember to ask, "What do you need pliers for?" He pointed to the bridge of his nose and said, "I want to get rid of the uni-brow." "Tweezers, Chaos. You need tweezers, not pliers." He agreed to let me help him out with the tweezing.

He was ready by 11 and she wasn't supposed to come until around 2 or 3. I suspect that the day went faster for me than for Chaos - but eventually she did come over. She was at a friend's house down the street and they walked over. (Not so sure the part about her parents knowing she was here was followed to the letter!) The friend had a brand new puppy so they mostly stayed outside after Chaos brought her in for introductions. I liked her. She looked me in the eyes, wasn't giggly, and wasn't too shy to hug Chaos goodbye in front of everyone. I wasn't sure what I expected after yesterday's conversation with Chaos about her.
"Tell me about Kelsey."
"What do you want me to tell you?"
"I don't know. Anything. What's her last name, what kinds of things does she like, does she play sports, does she have siblings, is she from here or elsewhere, what interests do you have in common - tell me anything."
"Uh." (accompanied by a blank look)
"Do you know anything about her?!"
"Mumble, mumble, mumble."
"What did you say?"
Mayhem yells from the other room, "She likes Sponge Bob."
"I was talking to CHAOS!"
"Chaos, do you have any common interests? Do you know anything about her as a person?"
"I don't think so." He laughed sheepishly at my expression. "That's why I need to talk to her more - to find all that stuff out!"
"What have you BEEN talking about?!"
"I don't know."

Ah, young love. Where is my beauty wrench? I need to clonk a boy over the head with it.

Does He Stay Up Late Thinking Of This Shit?

Or is it a natural gift? That's what I'm asking myself this morning.

(**Please, dear readers, skip this whole post and check back with me tomorrow if previous tapioca reports have bored you senseless. This pudding-headed interlude, while a bit stranger than most, is probably not worth reading. Unfortunately for you, I've become dependent on my blog as a venting vehicle! I have tried but I cannot properly complete my freaking out and move on without blogging about it. I'll be over it tomorrow. I promise.)

So I got an email from my ex, Mr. Tapioca Head, this morning inviting me to a surprise going away party he's having for the boys. That is not weird. That is kind and normal. Thoughtful even. (Ignore for a moment that his email also asked me for a list of the boys' friends and phone numbers.) The part of this email that has me freaking out is the part where he says, "But I also wanted to let you know that I did invite [let's call her Jessica] to this, so her son can say goodbye to the boys as well. I don’t want to make things awkward for you. " Jessica happens to be my ex girlfriend. I met her a year or so after my divorce and we dated for about a year. It ended in a very ugly way. She lied to me, then cheated on me, and then lied some more. I told her I didn't want her in my life or my children's lives, in any way, ever again. (Can you blame me?!) So, naturally, as I read his email, several obvious questions came to mind.

First: What possessed Mr. Tapioca Head to invite her to a party (supposedly) for my children? Yes, he had kept in contact with her. (I had introduced them at the time. They work in the same industry. She got him a job and later he returned the favor and got her a job somewhere else.) Fine. Then he should invite her to a party for HIM. My kids haven't seen her or her son in at least four years. Why the need to say goodbye now? Not to mention the part where I told my children that the reason she and her son weren't in our lives anymore was because she'd lied to me about something important. The boys and I had lots of discussions about friendships and boundaries and second chances and making hard decisions. We talked about what to do when people seemed nice but did mean things. (They were too young to know that it was a romantic relationship so I wasn't processing my "break up" with them - but the lessons are important and universal. Everyone ends up with tricky friendship situations at some point in their lives.) Mr. T knew all about this. As a co-parent, I wanted him to know what the kids were dealing with. I told him what was going on and why and how much I was telling the kids and why. He knew what kinds of questions they were asking and what answers I was giving them. Again - fine if he wants to stay connected to her even knowing what she's like, but to pretend he's inviting her to this party for my kids' sake? Mixed messages. Does not compute.

Second: As bizarre as it is to invite her in the first place and to pretend it's for my kids, I think it is WAAAAYYY more bizarre for him to then invite ME. And it is beyond ridiculous for him to say he doesn't want to make things awkward. His middle name is Awkward. Tapioca Awkward Head.

The man has NO boundaries. None. I won't be going to this party. I wouldn't have been able to even if it had been a normal going away party for the children. It is the day we load the moving truck (we'll ignore the fact that my ex knew this little fact too) and it is also the day of a good friend's wedding. But if you're free that day and want to attend the first (hopefully not annual) Bizarrefest, I'm sure I could get you an invite. I know a guy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sassy Sassy Garden Snake

There was a snake right outside my window yesterday. It slithered across the stepping stones in the courtyard and was way to fast to be caught on film. It reminded me of one of my favorite children's books EVER, EVER, EVER. Small Green Snake by Libba Moore (author) and Holly Meade (illustrator) is rollicking. Crazy word but it's exactly right. Hiss a hiss a hiss a hiss a boom! Small green snake wanders off from the safety of his mom and has all kinds of adventures from almost being snicked by garden shears to being trapped in a glass jelly jar. The words are fun to read aloud, the story is sweet, and the pictures are vibrant and interesting. GREAT BOOK. You should read it to a child you love (or sort of like) even if you don't have snakes in your garden.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Haven't Had One Of These In A While

Remember how cute my dog is? This is for his godmother (VBGF) who said she had to search too long through the blog to show a picture of him to some friends. It's also for SH who is in San Fran for the week for work. I'm tempted not to pity him after he told me about the scrumptious breakfast he had, but I think I still will. After all, I have 40 lbs of cute dogness curled up on my feet and he doesn't. Come home soon y'all. Your dog misses you!

Just Like Vegas, Only In Kentucky

When I picked Chaos up from camp on Friday, he was one of only two kids left. There was no set pick up time. I was told that they'd call when they were on their way. Chaos didn't call until they were already there. When he gave the one remaining camper a great big hug as he left, I began to suspect why he'd waited to call. Her name is Kelsey.

I asked about her (NATURALLY) and he blushed sweetly and laughingly said, "What happens at church camp, stays at church camp." All righty then! I asked Chaos great, big, open-ended questions about camp in general and got great, big, meaningless answers back, "It was fine." I was patient and he was stuck running errands with me for the next two hours so I eventually got a lot more out of him. He even enjoyed telling me. I think sometimes teenagers want to make sure you really want to listen before they're willing to invest energy in really talking to you. I think it takes them a lot of work to sort out what they're thinking and feeling about whatever they've just experienced and they aren't going to open that up only to be shut down. It means the world to me that my 15 year old is still willing to do that work to talk to me. Here's what I learned about church camp -

-Sunscreen works differently there. Chaos put it on five or six times a day (ask anyone in his group!), even on rainy days, and still got majorly sunburned. (I did explain to him that even with sunscreen on - a pale, red-headed boy like himself who spends 10 hours outside in the sun is going to get lobsterfied.)

-Chaos played football, ultimate frisbee, and soccer everyday, had Bible study and worship, and "partied" every night. ("Partied" meaning "talked to girls while there was music playing" - I am sooooo okay with this definition of partying and hope it lasts a lot longer than it is likely to!)

-Chaos is not born again. He learned a lot but doesn't agree with everything he was told. Also? He prefers being Catholic because they don't make him sing. He did ask if I would take him to Bluegrass Baptist Church next time it's "my" Sunday. He said he wants to hang out with Nate. I suspect he also wants to hang out with Kelsey.

Chaos told me at seven o'clock that he needed the phone around 8:40. I asked why and he said, "You know. Remember that girl that you saw me hug?" Yeah. I remember. I told him absolutely he could use the phone but he couldn't call her after nine and he couldn't stay on the phone later than nine-thirty. He called her. This is an historic event as it is the first time that a boy from our household has called a girl. My boys have, up until now, been too "Warhammer 40K" focused to have girlfriends! I was at the other end of the house but I know he didn't call her until after 8:50 because the kids were finishing up a movie. He was off the phone and horsing around with Bug in the kitchen not much after nine. I didn't ask about it. He was in a good mood and I hadn't had to pry him off the phone. Good enough. Small steps for as long as possible. The longer it takes us to get up to cruising speed for this part of the journey, the better in my book. Perhaps now would be a good time to buckle my seatbelt?


Monday, June 25, 2007

Error Message Writers Or Philosophers?

While webcrawling today I was told by a numbered error message:

"Sorry, but you are looking for something that is not there."

Cheeky bugger.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tri Fever

My studio is packed up. My books are packed up. My bike is packed (and shipped!) to NC already. Pretty much all I have left are my running shoes. Pretty much that's all you need to run. But did I run this morning? Noooooo. And why not? Because I didn't feel like it. And now that I do feel like it, it's raining. Yay for the rain. We needed it! Sad for me not to have run this morning when I had the chance.

In spite of not running, I haven't been completely useless today. I got myself fired up about the triathlon again. I plan on being one of the first to register for next year's event! I also found a great online workout tracker. I'm a logbook junkie. I can't train without a good log to write it down in. This time I'm training with friends from all over though - so an online workout log is ideal. It is interesting to me that very few of the athletes use the blog feature of the online log.

I also found two quilt guilds - one in Raleigh and one in Durham. Even more exciting than that, I discovered many art quilters in the area. Of course my favorite art quilter EVER is Hollis Chatelain and she is only about 15 or 20 miles from me (as best I can read the map!) Surely at some point, I'll find a way to take a class from her. (Rapture!)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Am A Sunflower (NOT)

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

I took an online quiz to determine what kind of flower I am (do not ask me why - I don't know) and this is what it came up with: a sunflower. Bleck. Sunflowers are boring. I'm not so fond of yellow to begin with. Add to that the fact that real sunflowers grow taller than I've managed to and then end up bent over and sad looking - and you can see why I don't like them. They are FAR from one of my favorite flowers. They make me think of cheap, overly-coordinated kitchens - rooster themes, country apple motifs, cheery sunflowers. Bleck, bleck, bleck. I tried changing some of my answers - which my buddy Duncan (AKA Unky Dunky to my kids) says is cheating. Who cares?! I don't want to be a sunflower! I challenged Dunk to take the quiz and find out what kind of flower HE is but he declined. However he informed me that he had just taken an online quiz to determine whether he'd survive a zombie apocalypse. He rated as a Zombie Slayer. Considering I don't even know what a zombie apocalypse would entail - I think I'd probably be the equivalent of a sunflower on that quiz to. Stupid quizzes.

Kroger's Has Just SERIOUSLY Pissed Me Off

I don't know why I'm surprised at this story. I can't wait to be out of here!

Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah

To settle our bet SH - it's "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah". (I win.)

Something You May Not (Want To) Know About Me

Step dancing knocks me out. I absolutely love it. I went to my first step show at the U of MD in the '80's and it totally blew me out of the water. I'd never seen anything like it. Well - I guess that's not entirely true. I'd seen black marching bands. (Something you may not (want to) know about my mother is that she got a scholarship to go back and finish college when I was in grade school. The school that offered her a scholarship was a predominantly black state school and they had a FANTASTIC band.) But in a band the steps are to showcase the music being played. In a step show the steps showcase the line, the bond of the fraternity brothers/sorority sisters, and they showcase the steps themselves. I never wanted to be part of the white greek system the way I wanted to be a part of the black greek system. Ignore (completely) for the moment that I am one of the palest and most arrhythmic white girls you've ever seen - there was something that called to me at that first step show. The percussive steps, the syncopated stomping, the precise angles of shoulders, necks, heads and hand movements - every bit of it amazed me. The exact and coordinated appearance of those on line, the explosive pride on display, and the unruly appreciation of the audience at the show all spoke to the kind of solidarity I desperately wanted to be a part of in college.

I've seen shows that have some of those elements: percussion, showmanship, mind-bogglingly uniform athleticism. Stomp. Riverdance. Whatever those huge Japanese drums are called. I love (Love, LOVE) stuff like that - but none of it reaches into my being the way step shows do. On the flip side, I've seen things that unexpectedly repulse me. Example: Krumping. For the love of God I do not understand Krumping! Given my bizarre attraction to stepping you'd think I'd have at least some appreciation for it - but no. None. Maybe it's the clown thing? Maybe it's that it's too much like professional wrestling for me? Maybe it's that I can't think of a less euphonious word than "krumping"? I have no good explanation for my lack of krumping affinity. All I can say is that I yearn to be in a step show the way I could never, ever - for love or money - want to be a krumper.

Impossible yearning and inexplicable repulsions aside - I'm not exactly hooked into the step show circuit. I haven't gotten to see one in years. But tonight I got to watch Stomp the Yard (on DVD because I missed seeing it in the theater a few months ago by ONE day!) Ignoring the mistake I made in renting it instead of buying it (why, why, why? I KNEW I was going to want to own it!) it was perfect watching it at home. I watched the whole thing through. Then I watched the extra features. Then the step scenes again. And then again. It was not a complex plot (by any stretch) but it was extremely well acted for a dance vehicle. It was believable in all the story ways it should be and it was unexpectedly authentic in the dance-story elements. And the stepping was abso-fucking-lutely brilliant. If you have any, even the slightest, interest in stepping you must go watch this movie. Like now.
(I mean it. You must. Now.)

Friday, June 22, 2007


Wednesday I learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube. Yay! It's been a mere 26 years since the one my Uncle Paul gave me drove me up the wall of frustration. Before the rejoicing gets out of hand, I should probably mention that I didn't figure it out all by myself. I just figured out the solution guide. That is enough cube accomplishment for me. Apparently this sentiment ranks me low down on the cube mania scale. I see on the official website that "cube fans everywhere" are invited to various competitions (Chicago for the US Cube Open and Hungary for the World Championships). Cube community members can chat (about cubes? all cubes all the time?) They can even send cube greeting cards to one another. For the serious cubers (maybe the ones who wore their cubes out?) there is now a virtual Rubik's cube online. Who knew?

In further avoidance behavior news - I have spent the better part of my computer time this week being distracted by random links. I have come across links to all kinds of things I didn't know about like the fan fiction genre of femmeslash, the gender neutral pronoun het, and the very interesting term tranzi which is being used by people I don't agree with to mean things I didn't know it meant. All very hmmmmmmm.

I have also been writing. You'd think writing and blogging would go hand in glove - and sometimes they do for me - but this week between the lure of links and non-blog writing, I've used up all my computer time. Fortunately or not, I have had plenty of time to worry about my son, Chaos, who is away at bible camp. He comes home today. Will I be able to tell if he's been born again the minute he gets off the bus? I imagine all kinds of horrible things like the youth leader telling me how proud they are that they got him to speak in tongues. (Given Chaos' interesting way with language - it's the most probable of his spiritual gifts if he were to lean in a pentecostal direction, don't you think?) In reality, I think Chaos is relatively impervious to religious fervor. Now sneak attacks of the hormonal variety? Not so confident about his skills deflecting those. How pretty are the girls at camp, do you think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I'm not sure if it came through clearly in my catch-up post, but SH has not seen the new house. That's right. Him no see house. He had just returned to TN when we found it. Blithely he had said as he was leaving, "Let's put an offer on [the house we'd seen three times] unless you find one that trumps it. We've seen enough houses together that I'd trust you on that." I'm pretty sure he did not think we'd find a clear trump. After all, we'd looked at 20 something houses already. No other even close contenders. We talked a little bit about the feasibility of him dashing back for a look see. It went like this: "Feasible? Not so much." No more time off from work to drive, no more money for plane tickets, no reassurance that waiting wouldn't lose us the house because the price reduction might bring in competing offers, etc. So this amazing man said, "Go ahead." He is buying a home sight unseen - incidentally committing to a 30 year mortgage in the process - based on what VBGF and I could tell him (and show him through pictures). That is a boatload of trust and love. It is humbling and wonderful and I just had to point it out. I'd like to think that I could have done the same thing if our positions had been reversed. My love for him is boundless and my trust in him is immense. It's just never been put to the test. I'm trying not to feel too pressured by it, but damn - I hope he likes the house when we get there!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Chaos: 7 am On His Birthday

Chaos wanted to tell a joke this morning. (Since it's his birthday and he's on his way to Bible Camp where we've told him he is NOT allowed to tell any of his jokes - we let him tell us one over breakfast.)
"Mom, why don't dinosaurs talk?"
"Because they're dead?"
"Did I tell you this one already?"

I love life with Chaos - even if his future is clearly NOT in stand up comedy. I absolutely adore him - sweet, shaggy, man-child that he has become. I can't believe I've been a mom for 15 years. Pretty freaking amazing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Month Of Sundays

Happy Fathers' Day to all the dads out there! Here at Lilymania, we are going to play catch up while the man of the house snoozes. (He and Bug - his first born and also the only child at home this weekend- stayed up until the wee sma's playing PS3, so it may be quite some time before they awaken.) The plan was to make the Dad Of The House a lovely breakfast - until we realized we'd packed up the kitchen and the oven won't be fixed until Wednesday! Plan B: IHOP.

Who knew that selling the house would be the EASY part??
Turns out that buying a house is an adventure in crazymaking. We have been looking at houses, online and in person, since April. We have seen dozens of houses. We have learned a LOT about each other - and about our realtor. We found a house that would work. We went to see it three times. Sweet Hubby left with the kids to get back home. I stayed with VBGF to help close up her classroom and get her grades in. Robbie the Realtor said she had two more houses for us to see. The plan was that unless either of these two houses trumped it, we'd put an offer on the one we'd seen three times. Wouldn't you know that both houses trumped it? There was a clear top choice though. This house - oh man! We loved it. LOVED it. Naturally, the list price was 30K above our upper limit. Here is where the fun came in.

We spent the better part of the week (=Tuesday morning through Friday afternoon) "negotiating". The first step was to offer 20K less than list price. They countered by going down 2K and wanting both triple the earnest money we offered and triple the cost of repairs contingency. That was weird. They wanted a LOT of our money and they wanted us locked into the contract even if there were repairs of ten grand. Danger Will Robinson! The house was built in '56. We said back - meet you half way on the price but that's ALL the earnest money we've got and we'll up the cost of repair contingency a little bit (NOT to ten grand!) Mind you - these people are in Chicago, Sweet Hubby is back in TN, and the realtors, VBGF, and I are all in NC. Getting answers and signatures and initials is not the smoothest of processes. We went back and forth and back and forth - and finally arrived at a verbal deal. Yay! Minor celebration ensued. Robbie the Realtor told us we couldn't really celebrate until it was all signed. We waited for the signatures. Signatures were not forthcoming. Major sadness and anger ensued. Turns out the young couple could not "afford" to sell their house at the price they verbally agreed to. Note - they were already getting a discounted commission rate. Their realtor said she was in shock and this had never happened to her and she was so sorry - but she could only relay what her clients said. We thought about it. We all decided that this was the right house for us. We raised our offer up to their original counter offer. They still couldn't afford it. Our realtor was irked and said that the sellers were not acting in good faith during the whole of this process. Their realtor agreed! What to do? Walk away? Make an offer on one of the two other houses that would work (just barely) for our family? We decided that we'd make one final effort and offer the list price. [There were other weird contingencies this couple tried to throw in, but all of those details are too tiresome to go into. At one point it truly seemed like the sellers were not hip with the whole concept of what selling entails (i.e. releasing ownership of the house for an agreed upon price).] At long last, however, all documents were signed and faxed (we made them sign first before we wasted time faxing again) and celebration recommenced. (Robbie the Realtor told us we could celebrate 75% - that there was still the home inspection to get through.)

More of the story -
We saw that the house had been listed in April for 90K more than the list price for which we bought it. Somewhere near the end of all the negotiating, our realtor turns up the fact that before that it was listed for 75K more with a different realty company. I guess we should feel like we got a deal, but really? I think they were smoking crack if they thought they'd get their original list price. Yes they did updates (oh, wait until you see the pictures in a minute!) - but the house is still 50 years old and has very little curb appeal (according to R the R.) We did get a deal because we got a house we love, that suits us all, that is close (walking distance on sidewalks!) to the schools and public library and community center, AND that we could afford (even if it's a bit of a stretch!) Keep your fingers crossed for us until July 18th!!

Here are a few of the previously promised pictures!
First, Mayhem and the Princessa as they tested for their black belts. This picture was taken at the beginning - about a half an hour into the three and a half hour test. They are both still so nervous they look like they're about to hurl. The posters on the walls behind them are lists and lists of the techniques they are being tested on.

I have fantastic movies of their freestyle sparring match and grappling match. They are not usually paired in class because they are siblings so it was surprising to have them fight each other during the belt test. The sensei was both amused and impressed. The Princessa didn't slow down one bit when Mayhem sent her earrings flying and Mayhem didn't let up even when the Princessa snagged and ripped out the ties on his gi (you can see them dangling in the pictures.) This is a picture of their final test element: to hold their belts straight armed, out in frontof them (not below their chins or above their foreheads) for 3 full (and very long) minutes.
Here is their first formal bowing out as black belts. Yay!!!!

Next - Chaos is 15! We celebrate with decorated birthday cookies instead of cakes and everyone gets to pick their own theme. Chaos likes skulls.

He also likes the two new holes in his head. One of his closest friends (Nate) got Chaos a scholarship to go to camp. Nate is super excited that Chaos gets to go. Me? Not so much. It's a Baptist summer camp - away for a week. I talked to the youth minister and explained that my son was Catholic and I did NOT want to send him if he was going to be told that his baptism didn't count or that he wasn't a real Christian. The nice youth minister said that didn't happen. ("Since when?!!!" was my sister's response to that.) We'll see. I've explained to Chaos that by choosing to go, he has accepted responsibility to modify his behavior, dress, and attitude to fit within the boundaries of a much more conservative group. He says he still wants to go. I think it will be good for him to follow through on a choice like that, but I'm also a little worried about it. (Can you tell?)

And finally - I have to show off my new kitchen (squeals with delight!) Look at the skylight! Do you see the coolie, cool purple, lavender, and lilac glass mosaic above the range? Have you ever seen an island that big? It's either 9 or 10 feet long!
This is the other end of the kitchen. The black is chalkboard. Painted right onto the wall. Ok - it's weird and not really well done - but it's the only thing I don't just love, love, love about the kitchen. Havoc, however, thinks it's perfect! He can't wait to write out his menus.
Give you one guess as to what he now wants to be when he grows up!
Peace (and keep those fingers crossed for us, please!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

One For The Money, Two For The Show

I have half a dozen half-written posts languishing. I've discovered that the surest way to show my house is to sit down to blog! We've had six showings in four days and we had an offer which is now a contract from the second one. YAY!!! The home inspection is Friday afternoon - and with a 30-year old house that part is a bit worrying! However, I am keeping the faith and I know that it will be smooth sailing. It has to be because, quite honestly, I can't handle many more showings.

We have all worked like fiends getting the house ready and keeping it that way - but oi! I charged Chaos to clean the fans - and he did a lovely job - but he left grimy handprints on the ceiling. I had to show Mayhem that it was, indeed, possible to vacuum the carpets without gouging the baseboards. We pressure washed the house only to have the kids water the baby grass and spray dirt and water up onto the clean windows. Wasabi "helped" by brushing his furry butt against new paint and then sitting on the leather couch. I really thought I'd scream. Actually I did scream a little. I was completely exasperated and explained (in an overly loud voice) several things, including (but not limited to) the pointlessness of creating even more work for ourselves, the financial reality that our house being in better shape meant it selling for better money which in turn meant being able to buy a better house in NC - and importantly that spending money on stupid stuff here (e.g. new green paint to cover up the sparkly red "I love you" mark left by window clings that had been adhered to the wall not the window) meant lowering the budget for fun stuff there (e.g. food, clothing, shelter). Mayhem turned to the Princessa and in a funny, mock sad, little voice said, "See what you did? You made the good Mama go away." The other kids held their breath and waited to see whether my head would start whipping around and around on my neck or whether I'd laugh. I laughed. I hugged them each and sent them off to work - and immediately had to call them back for remedial walking down the hall lessons. Who knew that there were five children in the world who could not for love or money walk down the (need I mention newly painted?) hallway without bumping into the walls with some part of their pointy, grungy little bodies?!!!

Once I'd gotten the kids on board I thought things would fall into place. And they did. Light bulbs fell out of sockets into hard to reach places. Wooden slats in the library unglued themselves and fell to the floor. Clearly, somewhere along the way I have managed to piss off a household god (or three). The lamp we'd moved from the library to Bug and Chaos' room ignited and spewed toxic fumes. Unky Dunky (who was babysitting while SH and I were out to dinner with my father) had the boys put it outside and then they all went back to their video games. In the middle of baking a casserole one night, the oven went "Phht" and died. The stove top still works but the oven won't heat. Is this an old oven? Why no, it is not. (The library lamp was ancient in appliance years and perhaps had an excuse for self immolation even if the timing was uncanny - but the oven was only old enough not to be under warranty!!!) To add insult to injury, for a year and a half we had a spare oven in the garage (along with a spare washer and dryer and at one point a semi-dead refrigerator). Our garage - a half way house for appliances. We looked around a few months ago and said to ourselves, "This is silly. The new appliances in the house are fine. We don't need these other ones even if they aren't all that old and they all work. Sure, it would be great to have another washer and dryer available, but there's not room for a second set to be hooked up. It's wasteful to have these perfectly good appliances sitting here benefitting no one. Let's give them all away!" And we did. We gave them to a needy family through a friend's church.

I don't regret that. I do regret having to spend hundreds of dollars either fixing this oven or buying another one. Grrr. I had no idea that selling a house was so expensive! For the first showing, I got a call at about 5 pm asking if the house could be shown between 6:15 and 7:15. As I hadn't started cooking supper, I took the kids out to eat. $75. The next day the house was shown from 1 to 2. I took the kids to the bookstore. $75. The next day we got three calls in the space of 15 minutes scheduling showings for the next two days. I told the kids we could not spend $75 a pop on these showings. They agreed. The next showing we went into town and bought the boys running shoes - which had been in the budget for a couple of weeks even though we hadn't had time to get there . Three pairs of running shoes ($311.85) and ice cream at Maggie Moo's ($19.61) totals $331.46 which (as Mayhem pointed out) is waaaaaaay more than $75.

Here's today's mantra: Contract. Done deal. Closing on July 16th. No need for any more showings! No more spending money! (We'll stick to all that just as soon as we get back from our trip to Wal-Mart to replace bathing suits we had but can't find ANYWHERE!)